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Employee well-being is a concept that has been around for decades. But when the 2020 pandemic hit and normal life was upended, taking care of each other became a priority. 

Many companies started offering resources to help their employees cope during the pandemic, such as more health benefits, self-care practices, access to counseling, or a more flexible work environment

This trend of employee wellness is expected to continue into 2021 and beyond as employers ensure they’re providing a more supportive workplace and employees begin to expect it.

Prioritizing employee well-being benefits the people in your business and the company itself.  

Read on to learn more about how to incorporate employee well-being into your business, including:

  • The definition of employee wellness 
  • How employee well-being can help your business 
  • How to implement a successful well-being program 
  • What you can do as a small business

What Employee Wellness Is

Employee wellness is defined by any workplace programs, activities, benefits, or policies that promote employee health and well-being in various areas, such as: 

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Social
  • Financial
  • Environmental 
  • Personal and career development 
  • Community 

What employee wellness boils down to is actively working to make your employees happy and healthy. 

Many companies, including Google, are known for their wellness programs. These programs look different at every company, with examples such as extensive health benefits or smart vending machines with bike parts to encourage employees to cycle to work. 

Why Improve Employee Well-Being 

Besides providing a better workplace for your employees, improving employee well-being can positively impact your business, as well. 

An Oxford study found that happy workers are 13% more effective. Wellness programs can decrease health care costs and help with absenteeism. Other studies have shown mental health interventions can improve well-being and productivity. 

Employees can also help market your company, as consumers tend to trust employees more than businesses themselves. Satisfied employees can also improve your brand. 

Plus, unhappy workers can be expensive and lead to employee burnout.

How To Implement an Employee Wellness Initiative

The best place to start with employee wellness is at the source. You could craft a wellness survey or ask for suggestions on how to improve the workplace. 

Sometimes there’s a mismatch between what management believes employees want and what they actually want. According to a Future Workplace survey, the top two wellness perks were air quality and comfortable light. 

Before you undertake a new initiative, find out what your employees want first. 

From there, decide what area or areas you want to focus on. Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends report suggests looking at well-being at various levels you can implement, from individual to team to organizational. 

Each company’s wellness program will and should look different depending on your business’s values and culture. Ideas can range from big to small, for example: 

  • Annual flu shots 
  • Increased maternal and paternal leave 
  • Gym membership compensation 
  • Paid time for volunteering
  • Restrict business email after work hours or on weekends 
  • Offer an Employee Assistance Program 
  • Encourage lunch breaks away from computers 
  • More plants in the office 

Employee Wellness for Small Business

Large companies can afford extensive wellness programs and perks for their employees. But how can small businesses keep up when resources tend to be stretched thin? 

Small businesses have an advantage that larger companies don’t have when it comes to wellness. Since small businesses work so closely with employees, they can intimately understand what their employees need and personalize their offerings. 

According to the National Small Business Associations’ workplace wellness report, companies with fewer employees had greater confidence they could manage employee health and wellness as opposed to companies with more employees. 

Foster a culture of employee wellness in your company. Pay attention to your employees and what they need to do their job better and be happy at work. You can create better bonds with your employees, and they’ll feel valued and appreciated by their company.

After a challenging 2020, it’s no wonder employee well-being is set to be a trend in 2021 and become a baseline for the future. Not only does it improve employee morale, but it also leads to happier employees who perform better at work. 

To instill a wellness program or policy, you should start with asking your employees what they want. Even as a small business, you can find ways to prioritize a culture of employee well-being. 

Your choices will depend on your company, but you can create meaningful changes for your employees.
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  • Machielle Thomas

    Machielle is a content enthusiast who has a passion for bridging the gap between audiences and brands through impactful storytelling. Machielle has also spoken at dozens of WordCamps throughout the years.

    Texas State University
    Previous Experience
    Brand Content, Content Marketing, Brand Lead, Operations Lead, Course Instructor
    Other publications
    Shopify, Contently
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